Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: January 2007



January 31, 2007

...the cupboard was bare

Frankie's supply of food in the yard is getting a bit thin. I can still go out and pick a meal for him but the cold weather is slowing any growth. Yesterday, I drove to a local park and picked a bag of dandelion greens and flowers and brought them back for Frankie's lunch.

The cold is also having an effect on turtle appetites. Mattie, our spider tortoise, has cut her food down to so very little that I was a bit worried. I've moved her downstairs to the gecko room where the daytime temperature is much warmer than our living room's temperature (usually about 64 degrees). After a couple of days in the warmer temps she finally ate a little bit of strawberries (bought specifically for her).

I am sitting here in the living room and am very cold. I am a real energy saving nut and turn the heater off when Greg is at work. If I want to get warm, I go downstairs and warm up in the gecko room. The gecko room doesn't need any heater, the fluorescent and basking lights, heat strips, computers, incubators, etc., keep that room in the 70's. At night it never drops below 60 unless Alabama outdoor temperatures drop in the teens. When that happens (as it did last night) I turn on a oil heater on low and the gecko room stays in the 60s. Anyway, for a winter room, the turtles are in a good place.

January 25, 2007

More Cabin Fever

Yesterday, after being inside since my last blog entry, Frankie again insisted on going outside regardless of the 43 degree, overcast weather. He managed a few nibbles of grass before turning around and going back inside. I get him a "bucket" of weeds and grass daily plus a few bits of veggies or fruits from the other turtles meals.

Mattie, the small spider turtle, stays upstairs with the humans in her own enclosure. I have started to take her downstairs into the gecko room each time I go to work there. This gives her an opportunity to really get warmed up on Frankie's heat pad and with the ambient room temperature. The humidity is better in the gecko room which she probably appreciates. She eats well once she is warmed up. Today her meal is cooked sweet potatoes and green beans.

There will be a small amount of sun today. If I can time it right, I can get Frankie out early this afternoon at the peak heat of 50 degrees.

January 18, 2007


The cold front that has frozen the west and central US is over us now. All turtles are inside keeping warm. Tough on Frankie with limited space inside to walk around. Yesterday, he insisted he wanted outside (I can tell because he gets right up to the door and sits there). I opened the gecko room door and the door to the garage and let him outside that far (the next door would be to outside). He took a walk through the basement turned back into the gecko room and returned to his nice, warm enclosure.

I've gone outside and picked the weeds growing in the yard -- they have little purple flowers on them -- and given Frankie a gallon scoop worth. He enjoyed that. Same will happen today. Again, I am not having to buy supplemental food for Frankie -- he lives off the weeds in our yard!

Our house is cold -- around 68 degrees or lower (depending on which floor I am on), so occasionally I go downstairs to the 74 degree gecko room to get warm. I may even drag a good chair downstairs so I can watch TV and stay warm.

January 12, 2007

Turtle Tricks

Outside when it is sunny and warm and inside when it is cool and cloudy -- such is the life of Frankie.

The other day, when it was cool and cloudy, Frankie had fun pushing the box turtles (in their plastic enclosure) around the room. The box turtles are unharmed as Frankie cannot get inside the container, but it doesn't keep him from pushing them around occasionally. To avoid this, I put a piece of newspaper over the box turtle's enclosure and Frankie cannot see them. If he cannot see them, he doesn't bother with them.

The little boy box turtle, Bama, got out of his enclosure and found his way into Frankie's heated night pad. Frankie must have found him and chased him behind the toilet (which is near Frankie's night pad). I found Frankie sitting under the front of the toilet, first thing in the morning when I came in to water the gecko. That is when I discover Bama under the back of the toilet, avoiding Frankie's overly friendly greetings.

Sometimes, Bama and Frankie get along great. I have found them sitting quietly together, no aggression at all. Still, I can't always trust Frankie. Bama weights less than a half-a-pound. Frankie weights in over 35 pounds.

January 1, 2007

New Year's Greetings

Happy New Years to All, geckos and turtles alike.

Frankie is okay. The next day, after sleeping 24 hours, he was awake and ready for the day when I went downstairs in the morning to water the geckos. He ate a good breakfast, walked around the room and just acted like a good tortoise should. Today, he got out for only an hour before the sun went behind clouds and temperatures dropped to the 40's F.